Menopause Explained

Menopause Explained

Food and Lifestyle Medicine

Menopause Stages Explained

What is Menopause?

Menopause is not a disease that needs to be treated it is a natural process from one phase of a woman’s life to another. There are 3 phases of menopause:

  • Perimenopause
  • Menopause
  • Post Menopause

Menopause is defined as the point in time when the ovaries stop producing eggs permanently.  Until a year has passed from the last period a woman has no idea if it is actually the last period.  The average age for menopause typically is 51, but can occur anywhere between ages 45-55.  Menopause comes from the Greek word ‘pausis’ (pause) and ‘men’ (month).

What is Perimenopause?

Perimenopause ‘peri’ comes from the Greek word ‘around’.

Perimenopause is the time leading up to the menopause, when the ovaries start to run out of eggs. Perimenopause typically starts mid to late 40’s and last anywhere from 2 to 8 years.

During this transition stage hormone production decreases, and as a consequence periods can become very unpredictable – irregular, less frequent, lighter or heavier.  Every woman is different and will experience different symptoms and some will experience no change in their periods.

Many women are caught off guard by the first symptoms believing that the atypical signs of hot flashes, mood swings, difficulty sleeping, irritability, and night sweats will not occur until they have reached the end point, menopause. How difficult this phase is, depends on how a woman adjusts to her changing body – very often any unresolved issues whether that be physically, emotionally or spiritually will worsen if not addressed.

What is Post Menopause?

Once you have stopped your periods for a year you have officially stopped ovulating and entered into post menopause.  You may still experience symptoms, commonly for 5-7 years, however, some woman for longer than this.

What is premature menopause?

Menopause can be bought on by surgery or medical treatment.  There is also a small percentage of woman who have Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI), which occurs in woman under the age of 40.